Luke Duncan is a quirky singer/songwriter from New Zealand. The goal of his debut EP was to create something influenced by his love of bygone music from a rose-tinted, dreamy era. Artists from the ‘60s and ‘70s are those from whom Duncan draws his greatest influence, but he’s not one to restrict or limit himself to a narrow range of musical geniuses. He appreciates recent music, whether it’s mainstream or obscure, and such modern influences also shine through in the clarity and pristine production of much of this EP entitled Passing By. Still, the rawness and realness of music from decades long gone is definitely present here, and Duncan thrives on it.
Passing By, Duncan’s initial six-track release, opens with the intriguing “Razor’s Edge.” A slow-paced, melodic, acoustic, psychedelic track, this opener is driven by a timid drum beat, a jovial, clean electric guitar pattern and Duncan’s soft, mellow vocals. It’s a trippy, yet melancholic experience. This track is head-bop-worthy, yet Duncan’s lyrics and vocals are clear. They cut straight to the core of a person’s emotions and they mean something. It’s a pop psychedelia, and it’s infectious. I knew I was hooked almost instantaneously, and the rest of the EP didn’t disappoint; well, other than the fact it left me craving more tracks.
“Never Ending Days” is an upbeat dream-pop song. A sharp, jolting piano chord progression drives the track, matched by a soft, clean electric guitar progression. Duncan’s vocals are mellow, emotive and elongated, as he reflects on the life which sits in his rear view mirror. He sings of the things he has left undone, but seems not to be at all phased by this. This is an upbeat, hopeful song about the potential of the future to offer happier opportunities.
‘I Don’t Know’ is a straightforward pop ballad. It’s driven by a chord progression on a gently strummed acoustic guitar and Duncan’s sweet, soft, floating vocals. It’s trippy and emotional all at once. It invokes deep feelings, and yet it makes one feel as light as a feather. I lost myself for a while somewhere in the depths of this track, which is short in length but huge in atmosphere and sound.
All in all, Luke Duncan’s debut EP is impressive both in diverse stylistic tendencies and the production quality present throughout the EP. Often indie artists releasing their first collection of tracks run into problems, but Duncan remains an artist of consistent and constant high quality through each and every song present on this short EP. It’s really worth a good listen (perhaps while lying in the garden late at night and staring at the stars). I’m certainly looking forward to whatever Duncan releases in the futur
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